Sneak Peek

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
~ The Wizard of Oz

wizardofoz

How would you like to see what’s going on behind the curtain? There is a catch here, and you might want to stop reading right now. Why is that? First of all … you can’t even have it today. That’s not exactly true. One of you will have this today in one of your course shells. The rest of you will just have to wait. This is in pilot phase right now … one course and one teacher. After some more tests and feedback, it will be rolled out to an ever-widening group. It’s your choice whether or not to continue reading here now. Let’s take a peek!

Peek-A-Boo

One of the biggest challenges in online course delivery and communication has been pacing. It can be very tedious to keep students aware of the pace they need to maintain. It has also been a challenge to know who is on pace and who has slipped behind or fallen off the road. Many of you spoke loudly and clearly about this at our last conference gathering. We have not forgotten you! In fact … our development team has worked very hard writing and rewriting the code to get to tonight’s rollout of one. There were folks at FLVS with whom we needed to collaborate as well. Are you still with us?

The Pilot

Working with FLVS, we incorporated into Educator the time it should take a student to complete a lesson AND assignment. This information was imported into Gradebuilder:

xminutes

Needing a starting point, we agreed to set a student’s pace as working for one hour per day for five days in a week. Beginning with a student’s start date and taking into account segment enrollment, exempted assignments, and honors status, a pace chart with due dates is created for each student. When viewing a student’s gradereport, the teacher sees the calculated due date and actual submitted date:

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The rows are color-coded in order to provide graphic clues:

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Teachers will also be able to enter the Pace Planner for any particular student and adjust the pace EITHER by entering the intended END DATE or budgeting a set number of HOURS PER WEEK for the student. At this time the developers did not leave this open for students to navigate.

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Students will also gain new functionality through this enhancement. The student workload will reflect due dates. Their color scheme will reflect work/assignments that are DUE IN 5 DAYS, already LATE, or CURRENT.

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The student CALENDAR will also be populated with assignment due dates:

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While you are reading this, there is one teacher in one course with one class of students who are all experiencing the Dynamic Pace Chart. There will likely be some tweaks and suggestions put into place in the coming days and weeks before the expanded group joins. Thank you for allowing us to share what has been going on behind our curtain. Feel free to share your own thoughts.

It’s fun to peek into other people’s worlds and see how they go about doing things.
~ Norah Jones

Picture Push

Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words.
~ Arthur Brisbane

colorcans

We’re introducing some new pictures today!

icons_rolesWe began with your course roster.

We were told it would be helpful for you to note what listed “members” on your roster were not necessarily students. Two new icons will now help distinguish any users who are NOT visible to students in your course.
These are teaching assistants and other users who are invisible for one reason or another.

Moving along, we decided to tastefully add some pictures and color to files. These icons will appear in appropriate places like the assignment feedback page, any folder views, and when viewing file pages. These are samples from the Common Folder area:

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You’ll find new, colorful graphics for Office files, video files, images, and more.

Some time ago we introduced an expanded ability for students to upload video files. We have been testing this system in a couple of courses for months. We are releasing this capability to all courses. Students will now be able to upload videos up to 250MB in size in all courses! The total single upload size for all files is now increased from 75MB to 500MB for video files.

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Please note: those videos will be transcoded down to a smaller resolution and quality. Students will be notified of this whenever they upload a video file. This helps reduce disk usage and bandwidth bottlenecks. Let us know what you think.

Finally we have one comment from you to share …

Good Morning, it would really help if in the forcing slides page, the grade of the student shows as well. As I place forcing slides for seniors or other group this would make things faster. Thanks.

Visit the Forcing page and SET INDIVIDUAL FORCING CONDITIONS at the bottom.

forcing_grade

We have had numerous requests to make this easier to execute, specifically for seniors. When you view the individual forcing conditions, each student will now show their grade level. New filters have been added to take advantage of this new data point. Thanks for thinking!

A composer is a guy who goes around forcing his will on unsuspecting air molecules, often with the assistance of unsuspecting musicians.
~ Frank Zappa

One Question

joubert205

Joseph Joubert (1754-1824)

It is better to debate a question without settling it than to settle a question without debating it.
~ Joseph Joubert

Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) was a French man of letters who wrote on philosophical, moral, and literary topics. He actually published nothing during his lifetime.
He wrote in notebooks or on scraps of paper and later stored these in a trunk.

Some other quotes attributed to Joubert that have a bearing on what we do include …

– Children need models rather than critics.
– Ask the young. They know everything.
– To teach is to learn twice.
– The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress.

That’s exactly the point here … we have one question for all of you. We don’t want to argue. We just want to listen to your discussion, and we want to make progress. More on that coming up. Feel free to comment here, on our Facebook page, or via whatever channel you like. We were recently puzzled by this comment …

When teachers pull up a student’s grade report, we can see a breakdown of both Segments 1 and 2. However, when students pull up their gradebook, they can only see a breakdown of the entire class. This does not help them when looking at an individual segment and how they can improve their grade. Can you add the breakdown of the individual segments for the students to see?

The dialogue was later continued …

For example, instead of just seeing total points earned, current percentage, and overall percentage it would be great for students to also see this for just Segment 1 and just Segment 2. The problem is that they cannot easily see how many points they would need to earn to raise their grade to an A or a B for each Segment.

Are you still hanging in there? (We’re getting closer to the question.) We discussed these comments in our meetings and looked at the situation. Pretend you have a student who HAS SUBMITTED WORK that was already graded in BOTH segments. This is similar to what would appear to the student (and the teacher) at the top of the student’s grade report:

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This should certainly look familiar. Note the graphs reflecting work SUBMITTED AND GRADED in both segments. When the student navigates to the bottom of his/her own report, this is what’s there:

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When the teacher (you!) navigate to the bottom of an individual student’s grade report, this is what you actually see:

grades_bottom2

You get to see a lot more! Please note the segment breakdown for points earned out of the total possible. Also note the CURRENT percentage based on work submitted against the possible points therein and the OVERALL percentage based on all work available in the segment. There is a lot more detail here regarding the student’s grade.

The Educator team discussed the matter, and we scratched our heads. At one time we had scripted Educator to display all that information for the student. Now it doesn’t, and we cannot remember why! So here’s your question …

Should all segment data (as in the teacher view above) be displayed for the student?
Feel free to tell us why or why not.

Please let us know what you think here. We’d like to go back to what makes sense to us, but we do not want to overlook any reason to keep the status quo. Thank you!

bilbob“Go back?” he thought.
“No good at all!
Go sideways? Impossible!
Go forward? Only thing to do!
On we go!”
~ Bilbo Baggins, The Hobbit

Reminder

Ding! Ding! Ding!
~ My car

You know that sound when you neglect to fasten your seatbelt in a timely manner? Do you also have that higher pitched one when your turn signal has been heralding your intentions for way too long? It’s often fortunate (albeit annoying) that my talkative car also bombards my sense of sight.

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What about that kitchen timer! Have you ever noticed how quickly things get burned when you forget to set the timer and walk away just to write one email?

Speaking of reminders, we found this one in our inbox of ideas:

Is there a way to make the “out of office” autoreply work better? It is hard to tell that is on. In outlook, there is a thin yellow banner across the top of the page letting you know that “autoreply is on”. It is a good reminder and reassurance that it is working.

It’s quite simple this week. From now on … consider yourself warned!

autoreply2

Remember to Update Preferences in your EMAIL PREFERENCES. This reminder will appear on your Educator pages until you change your preferences or until 11:59PM on the date you selected to end the autoreply.

One thorn of experience is worth a whole wilderness of warning.
~ James Russell Lowell

Back Again

It’s a dangerous business, walking out one’s front door.
~ Gandalf, The Hobbit

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We’re back from our adventuring on the Tallahassee frontier. We carried our lists, sat around the campfire, and made some team plans while we were there. Some plans are big; some others are small. Of course, many of these plans have you and your students in mind. Some blueprints are still being drafted, and others are on the assembly line.

blue_real

We’d been reviewing some previous enhancements when we thought we could go one better here. Could we improve upon the link to a student’s grade report while viewing an email? Then recently this comment was sent our way via email …

I love the ability to click to see a student’s gradebook when I receive an email. Can it stay there even after I hit reply? Sometimes, I have to reference the gradebook again after I hit reply.

This played right into our thinking. What could we do? Could we go for the gusto and work some magic across course shells and email as well?

When you view a student email, you have had this icon to open the student grade report.

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When you clicked REPLY, the icon link to the student grade report disappeared.

Things have now changed to address the above suggestion. First of all, there is a new UNIVERSAL icon for the Student Grade Report. Whenever you see this checkmark icon (below), it will be a link to that particular student’s Grade Report.

emailgradeicon

Going another step on the road to efficiency, the developers have added that icon to your email reply area in order to provide access to that same report. Obviously, you can only be replying to a single student via email in order to view the grade report. This link will only appear on replies.

emailgrade2

This will work for teachers as well as TA’s. Using the embedded email metadata within Educator, the grade report relevant to you in your current role will be the one displayed.

NOTE: This will be the grade report for the class FROM WHICH THE STUDENT WROTE THE EMAIL.

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On another note …

We have some help for the Help Desk or anyone wanting to help. There have been some recent tickets from parents who were concerned that Johnny’s work was “disappearing” from everywhere. Have you ever heard this one before? What happens to all that disappearing work? Detective Educator is on the way!

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Whenever a student deletes a file, that will be noted in the Usage Log. This might save some time at the Help Desk or when engaged in conversations about apparent magic acts.

It’s time now for us to get back to work. Keep talking. Thanks for joining us.

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We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.
~ Jeff Bezos

Wagons Tally-Ho!

It is not easy to be a pioneer – but oh, it is fascinating!
I would not trade one moment, even the worst moment, for all the riches in the world.

~ Elizabeth Blackwell

wagontrain

The wagons are rolling into Tallahassee once again this week! We are gathering around the Ucompass fire for our annual company gathering. Much of our development energy at this time turns to meeting, discussing our trajectory, planning development, and singing around the campfire. It does us all a great deal of good. If history repeats itself, it’s also good for you!

We are by no means ignoring you over these next couple of weeks. Our time spent here might be briefer than most. We still need/want your comments and feedback. We thought it might be helpful to share some How-To tips that have come up more than once in our dialogues or comments from you. This past week it seems to be mostly about finding students.

FIND DBA SKIPPERS

To find students that have not submitted an assessment you have to use the “Find learners based on performance” at the bottom of the FIND STUDENTS page.

find_1

First select (1) the course you wish to search and then (2) click the “Go!” button.

Next set the query to ‘scored less than or equal to’ and enter a ‘1’ for score.

find_2Now, select the assessment (3) for which you are looking, and be sure to check (4) the Include non-submitted assessments in results check box and then click Search (5).

The results page will then show you all students that have “Not Submitted” and any Exempted students.

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From the results page here, you can further filter the results (above) or select students for an action.

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FIND SENIORS

Can you think of any reason why anyone MIGHT be interested in a senior’s grade in the month or two before graduation? Have you ever noticed how a student’s interest in his/her current grade seems to grow dramatically in the 60 days prior to the end of the school year?

There have been several requests for instructions on how to expediently find a senior’s grade report. Start with FIND STUDENTS again.

Just add the correct numeric grade level, and you’re done!

find_5

By the way … the student grade reports will now link on mobile devices. Stay in touch. We’ll be back!

The way of the pioneer is always rough.
~ Harvey S. Firestone

Finding

Either I will find a way, or I will make one.
~ Philip Sidney

findW

Sometimes there is just so much information in front of us that we cannot find that one small piece which we seek. Do you know what we mean? Is Waldo even there? Wouldn’t it be helpful if we could zero in on the area where Waldo is located? Of course it would!

Someone first wrote …

As I am sending out “No Work” emails, I thought of another great feature request.
Under the “Find Students” option, could we have a function for date work submitted?
That way we could email students in bulk that have not submitted work in a set amount of time.

Would that help you? Could we gain some increased efficiencies? Would you have more time to do other things that either benefit your students or just make you smile more?  The whole idea made sense to our development team. Then someone else suggested …

How about one more that might be a hidden gem. For our BLC teachers that have students in different schools … can they “Find Student” based on school?

OK. Are you ready for the change?

find1

Two new sort fields have been added for your use: the student’s SCHOOL and the LAST SUBMITTED DATE. This should help expedite some communications. Let us know your thoughts.

There are some new tooltips associated with this enhancement. Hovering over a question mark icon will display the associated tooltip …

tooltips1

Having completed your SEARCH, you will still be able to checkbox those students with whom you wish to interact, and then you can execute the bulk ACTION of your choice … email, group, or force. Please keep sharing your ideas and comments.

Don’t find fault, find a remedy.
~ Henry Ford

Reset or Resubmit

Now the trouble about trying to make yourself stupider than you really are is that you very often succeed.
~ C.S. Lewis, The Magician’s Nephew

RESET Notice

The icons introduced earlier this month were met with such a fine reception. Thank you. We’ve decided to use them some more! It was several weeks ago when one of you wrote:

With the new change of limited resubmissions, is there anyway we can have the little circle arrow change when they have reached the limit?

You should be very familiar with both starring members in our icon play this week. You know what they mean just by looking …

icons

They’ve taken on expanded meaning with this week’s update. The developers have taken your suggestion above and added some help for you when hovering over the icons. This applies to EXAM RESETS and any ASSIGNMENT RESUBMISSIONS. These are the basic possible states with any exam or assignment:

  1. The student cannot resubmit or reset.
  2. The student can reset the exam one more time.
  3. The student can reset or resubmit a variable number of times.
  4. The student can resubmit or reset an unlimited number of times.

When hovering over either of these icons in the Student Grade Report, a tooltip will let you know the status for student resets or resubmissions. Some different possibilities are shown here:

resets

If there is no icon, then the assessment never allowed for any resubmission or reset at all.

Hiding Passwords

Here is an excerpt from an email regarding another recent improvement …

Recently there was a change made to expose the Global Password in a student gradebook, when a teacher is viewing them. The global password data element is also present when a teacher clicks on the “copy” button from a student gradebook as well.
The data element being present when copy is clicked is a bit problematic as the teachers use the copy button to create IPPs in Excel. Since the change, when an IPP is created, teachers must manually remove the global password.
Is there any chance that can be removed from the data captured when the copy button is pressed?

More work? We don’t want to give you more work! As you know, we appreciate knowing when enhancements in one arena MIGHT cause problems in another. Without feedback like yours above, we’d never know. So, thank you!
And just to prove our gratitude, The Global/Proctor Password show/hide button remains for your convenience. From this point on … when you copy/paste or export the table, the TITLE will remain, but the passwords will not show. They will look like this:

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Remember to hide the ones you’ve shown, and all should be well again. As always, please keep us posted.

Announcement

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We have scheduled a planned outage this Sunday (March 29) morning from 1am to 4am. We will be making infrastructure improvements that require a shutdown. So, if you or your students enjoy working in those wee hours, please make other arrangements. We apologize for any inconvenience, but it was the slowest time we could find.

Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.
~ Spock, The Wrath of Khan (1982)

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Agility!

We told you that we listen! And now we show you that we act!
Based on your responses and suggestions this morning, some changes have already been rolled out. This post represents the most recent information.

FONTS

The font for student submissions has been changed. It’s not only different; it’s slightly larger. The background color for ALL student submissions within Educator (essays, assignments, etc.) is a pale yellow. If you see any other color please let us know with a screenshot:

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REMOVE Comments

The REMOVE COMMENT button color has been changed to a less vicious gray color. We have also added a confirmation dialogue. Whenever you choose to remove a student comment, you will need to OK the action in the next window.

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Passwords

There were some rightful concerns about displaying passwords in the student grade report. Some of you like using screenshots, and this would have impeded your ability to do so. Clicking the lock icon will now display and hide passwords in the roster.

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Enjoy your weekend, and thank you for the feedback. Keep us on our toes!

Juggling

It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.
~ Arthur Conan Doyle

juggling

We spent some time this week juggling your ideas. There were big ones and small ones. We’re still going through your thoughts and comments, so please keep sharing them for each other and us. Meanwhile, your words …

Exam Passwords

Hello! I was wondering if, when looking at a student’s gradebook, it would be possible to put the exam password for that student in the “actions” box or somewhere more accessible than going through the several steps of opening the exam tab and searching for the student’s password individually. Thank you for always considering our ideas!

passwordsYes, we certainly do consider EVERY idea that crosses our desktops. We just cannot possibly act on every single one right away. You know that, and we know you don’t expect us to do so. That doesn’t mean that we ignore any words you take the time to write here, on our Facebook page, or via email. No idea or comment goes unnoticed.

Some take longer to ponder than others. Some might even require dialogue with your leadership. Some just take more time than others for us to process. Every idea is worth our time. Many of your ideas eventually do become a reality for everyone. Take the one above as an example …

It is now simpler for you to reach a student’s exam password!

On the student’s grade report the exams will show the password assigned to the student. This will apply whether via Global Password or Proctored Password. We hope this one idea helps many of you. Please let us know.

Font Readability

Sometimes we just aren’t sure how best to handle a request. This was another recent comment on our Facebook page:

Any way we can get a few more font options? Courses where spelling is an issue could use a way to easily distinguish tricky letters (example: can you tell that these are 2 different letters: l / I?)

Hmmm … we do not have rich text capabilities at this time. This doesn’t mean we are not working on it; it only means that there are some roads and bridges yet to be built. In the meantime we are working to approach a better solution. The letters that were specifically brought into question were the uppercase “I” (I) and the lowercase “L” (l). When a student submits writing contained within an assessment, the default font has now been changed.

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This will apply only to student content such as essay submissions on exams or comments on assignments. Look at the word Illinois in the examples above. Keep us posted on this. Your feedback has always been helpful.

Icon Real Estate

Finally, these thoughtful comments were made on a recent blog entry:

Can students have a quick access link to their gradebook? I would rather them access their assignments via the gradebook than the assessments because then they are forced to see what assignments need to be revised and resubmitted.

This was followed by:

I second this. Newer students often don’t know where to go to resubmit assignments.

And then the use case was emphasized:

Yes, please add the Gradebook. When parents talk to me, one of their most frequently asked question is where can they find the Gradebook?

These were all good points. After reading these comments and engaging in some conversations, we had to consider the precious value of our toolbar real estate. Where do we stop adding icons? We do not want to drown students in icons. Then we thought about the problem …

Students (and parents) might actually have a hard time seeing the Gradebook link:

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What could we do about this without adding a new icon to the student toolbar? What could be done to make the Gradebook link easier to find? We juggled many possible solutions and finally just added some space and a separator line to the student’s menu:

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With some guidance from you and a little reading on their part, we hope your students will have an easier time finding their gradebook. We know it’s small; we know it’s not a new icon. It does save our/their/your precious real estate. Let’s see how well it works.

I’m a strong believer that you practice like you play, little things make big things happen.
~ Tony Dorsett